Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar

About the Seminar
WESTAF’s Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar brings together the WESTAF trustees and a small group arts leaders from the West to Washington, DC annually. The purposes of the seminar are to engage in briefings regarding the status and future prospects for federal arts support, to meet with members of Congress and their staffs, and to join the WESTAF trustees in a discussion of ways to generate more state-government support for the work of state arts agencies.

he inaugural seminar took place in December 2011. For this seminar, WESTAF brought 55 arts advocates from across the West for a similar purpose. The second seminar, which took place in February 27-March 1, 2013, was slightly condensed and included a different mix of participants. The condensing was undertaken to avoid duplication of the efforts of NASAA, which hosted a major seminar for state arts agency chairs and executive directors in Washington, D.C. the previous October.

For its fifth consecutive Seminar, WESTAF brought 60 arts leaders from the West to Washington, DC, February 2-4, 2016. The group received briefings regarding the status and future of federal arts funding, heard reports on programmatic developments at the NEA, and met with non-arts experts who work with federal-level issues. The seminar opened with a presentation by political strategist John Feehery and concluded with arranged visits to the offices of members of Congress from the WESTAF region.

The Goals of the Arts Leadership Seminar
The primary goals of the arts leadership seminar are:

  • To orient and educate arts leaders in the thirteen-state WESTAF region to the structure of and dynamics of federal arts funding as it affects the states in the region.
  • To begin to build a year-round group of WESTAF-region advocates for federal support for the arts.
  • To build and sustain existing relationships with federal elected officials and their staffs, and then to productively engage in a long-term dialogue with them regarding the value of federal support for the arts.
  • To provide the leadership of the National Endowment for the Arts and Washington-based arts service organizations with a better understanding of the nature of arts development in the West and the ways federal support for such development can be most effective.

Expected Outcomes
The expected outcomes of this seminar are the following:

  • Those participating are significantly more informed about the structure of, environment for, and challenges facing federal arts funding.
  • WESTAF establishes a sub-group of participants that is effectively positioned to assist the region with long-term, federal-level arts advocacy.
  • Measurable improvements are made in establishing–or deepening–relationships with federal-level elected officials and their staffs.
  • The leadership of the National Endowment for the Arts and of national arts service organizations begin to publicly articulate the nature and importance of the West in federal decisions regarding arts development.

Attendees
Attendees of the Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar include arts leaders from three categories:

  • WESTAF Board of Trustees: Trustees from our 13-state region attend this seminar. The majority of WESTAF trustees are arts leaders independent of state arts agencies, and include legal experts and consultants, academic policy scholars, marketing professionals, and arts organization leaders. The WESTAF Board is a policy-focused–not development–group. Five trustees, a minority of the Board, are state arts agency executive directors.
  • Invited Arts Leaders: Arts leaders throughout the WESTAF region, particularly those who are politically active and influential, attend the advocacy seminar. These individuals are similar in backgrounds and expertise to the WESTAF trustees.
  • State Arts Agency Executive Directors: Executive Directors from all 13 WESTAF states are invited to attend the seminar, but not all attend. Some state arts agency chairs attend as well.

Presenters and Agenda
Past presenters at the Seminar represented national arts-service organizations (National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Americans for the Arts), federal agencies (National Endowment for the Arts) and non-arts advocacy organizations (American Institute of Physics).

Below is a list of speakers and agendas for the past Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminars. 

2017 Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar

Click here to view the agenda from the 2017 Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar.

  • Sam Stein, Senior Politics Editor, Huffington Post
  • Isaac Brown, Legislative Counsel, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
  • Nina Ozlu Tunceli, Chief Counsel of Government and Public Affairs, Americans for the Arts
  • Clara L. Pratte, Vice President, Bracy, Tucker, Brown & Valanzano
  • Dean Hingson, Principal, Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas
  • Jonathan Allen, Author and Political Commentator
  • Bill O’Brien, Senior Innovation Advisor to the Chairman, NEA
  • Marete Wester, Senior Director of Arts Policy, Americans for the Arts

2016 Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar

Click here to view the agenda from the 2016 Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar.

  • John Feehery, President of Communications and Director of Government Affairs for Quinn Gillespie and Associates
  • Isaac Brown, Legislative Counsel, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
  • Nina Ozlu Tunceli, Chief Counsel of Government and Public Affairs, Americans for the Arts
  • Mike Griffin, Chief of Staff and White House Liaison, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Laura de la Torre, Director of Congressional Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Philip “Bo” Hammer, PhD, Senior Director, Member Society Business Development, American Institute of Physics

2015 Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar

Click here to view the agenda from the 2015 Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar.

  • Anita Dunn, Political Strategist and Former White House Communications Director
  • Isaac Brown, Legislative Counsel, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
  • Nina Ozlu Tunceli, Chief Counsel of Government and Public Affairs, Americans for the Arts
  • Mike Griffin, Chief of Staff and White House Liaison, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Laura Scanlan, Director of States and Regions, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Jessamyn Sarmiento, Director of Public Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Bill O’Brien, Senior Advisor for Program Innovation, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Bonnie Nichols, Research Program Analyst, National Endowment for the Arts

2014 Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar

Click here to view the agenda from the 2014 Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar.

    • Sam Stein, Reporter, The Huffington Post
    • Isaac Brown, Legislative Counsel, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
    • Nina Ozlu Tunceli, Chief Counsel of Government and Public Affairs, Americans for the Arts
    • Mike Griffin, Chief of Staff and White House Liaison, National Endowment for the Arts
    • Laura Scanlan, Director of States and Regions, National Endowment for the Arts
    • Ayanna Hudson, Arts Education Director, NEA
    • Sunil Iyengar, Director, Office of Research and Analysis, NEA
    • Jason Schupbach, Director of Design Programs, NEA
    • Michael Bracy partner at the government affairs firm Bracy, Tucker, Brown, & Valanzano; policy director of the Future of Music Coalition.

2013 Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar

Click here to view the agenda from the 2013 Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar.

  • Thomas Frank, Author, What’s the Matter with Kansas?
  • Heather Noonan, Vice President for Advocacy, The League of American Orchestras
  • Isaac Brown, Legislative Counsel, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
  • Nina Ozlu Tunceli, Chief Counsel of Government and Public Affairs, Americans for the Arts
  • Mike Griffin, Chief of Staff and White House Liaison, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Laura Scanlan, Director of States and Regions, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Patrice Walker Powell, NEA Deputy Chairman for Programs and Partnerships
  • Jamie Bennett, NEA Chief of Staff
  • Steven Shewfelt, Deputy Director, Office of Research and Analysis, NEA

2011-2012 Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar

Click here to view the agenda from the 2011 Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar.

  • Matthew Dowd
  • Jonathan Katz, Executive Director, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
  • Tom Birch, Legislative Counsel, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
  • Ann Guthrie Hingston, Government Relations Consultant
  • Jamie Bennett, Chief of Staff, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Robert Lynch, President and CEO, Americans for the Arts (AFTA)
  • Nina Ozlu Tunceli, Chief Counsel of Government and Public Affairs (AFTA)
  • Scott Provancher, President, Arts and Science Council of Charlotte-Mecklenburg
  • Jennifer Greenamoyer, Senior Government Liaison, American Institute of Physics
  • Heather Noonan, Vice President for Advocacy, American Symphony Orchestra League
  • Patrice Walker Powell, Deputy Chair for Programs and Partnership, National Endowment for the Arts